Kenneth Smith, aged 58, was pronounced dead at 8:25 pm local time on January 25, 2024, following his execution in Alabama. This marked the state’s second attempt to carry out his death sentence; the first attempt in 2022, using lethal injection, was unsuccessful. On this occasion, Alabama employed the novel method of nitrogen hypoxia. Smith had been sentenced to death during a 1996 retrial, where the judge decided against the jury’s recommendation for life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Despite appeals, both the courts and the governor chose not to step in.
In light of the recent execution of Kenneth Smith in Alabama, we are reminded of the urgent need for action in similar cases, notably that of Rocky Myers. Like Smith, Myers faces the grim prospect of execution in a system fraught with complexities and controversies.
Rocky Myers’ case is particularly alarming due to questions surrounding the fairness of his trial and the severity of his sentence. It is imperative that we mobilize to prevent another potentially unjust execution.
- Write to the Governor of Alabama urging that clemency be granted Rocky Myers and that his death sentence is commuted
Governor of Alabama
Office of the Governor of Alabama
600 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery, AL 36130
Salutation: Dear Governor
Alabama Executes Kenneth Smith Using Controversial Method
Kenneth Smith’s case dates back to a crime committed 36 years ago, when a woman was tragically killed in her Alabama home on March 18, 1988. Reports say her husband hired Billy Williams, who then involved Kenneth Smith and John Parker in the plot. After the crime, the husband died by suicide. Williams received a life sentence without parole, Parker was executed in 2010, and Smith faced a rollercoaster of legal battles, eventually receiving a death sentence despite a jury’s recommendation for life imprisonment without parole.
“The World is Watching”
Smith’s initial execution attempt in November 2022 failed due to technical issues. The state then decided to use nitrogen hypoxia, a new method. In December 2023, a court considered stopping the execution, but on January 10, 2024, the judge declared, “Courts presume… that the [state authorities] do not seek to superadd terror, pain, or disgrace to their executions.” The appeals court supported this, with one judge reluctantly agreeing due to procedural standards, but voiced concerns about potential inhumanity. The Supreme Court declined to intervene, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissenting, saying, “The world is watching. This Court yet again permits Alabama to experiment with a human life.”
The execution, lasting about 22 minutes, showed Smith in visible distress, contradicting the ADOC Commissioner’s claim that “nothing was out of the ordinary.” Governor Kay Ivey stated, “After more than 30 years… Mr. Smith has answered for his horrendous crimes. I pray that [the victim’s] family can receive closure.” With over 1,500 executions since 1976, the death penalty remains a contentious issue, with groups like Amnesty International opposing it as a violation of human rights.